Autumn Leaves
Japanese Acer

Best Trees For Autumn Leaves In Your Garden

Guest contributor Julien de Bosdari of Ashridge Trees gives advice on choosing the ideal tree for Autumn leaves.

As autumn approaches, we begin to think about creating a garden that will display the best, most beautiful colours. That’s what the season is all about in your garden, and finding the right trees for this is essential if you want to get the best out of the space.

It’s not too difficult to find the trees on the list below. Most will be available at your local garden centre, and if not, there are plenty of specialist growers and centres in most areas. All of them are worth tracking down.

For those who have smaller gardens

Smaller gardens don’t have to be a let-down in the autumn, and you can still have the colours and the look that make the season worthwhile.

Japanese Mahonia

This is a firm favourite in autumn, and once you see the beautifully warm colours it presents with, it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular. Autumn deserves colours like this, with reds and purples that vary in intensity, and seem to leap out from the green.

It’s not a particularly difficult tree to look after, and it has a maximum height of 1.5 metres. This makes it perfect for the smaller garden. It’s incredibly tough too, so even if you haven’t got the world’s best soil in your space, the Mahonia shouldn’t struggle.

Japanese Acer

The Acer has been a firm favourite in all gardens for a long time, but it is especially suited to the smaller garden. They work really well in containers, and they are not hard work by any stretch of the imagination.

As long as the soil is reasonably moist you’re in good shape with this small tree. The colours are simply beautiful, with many gardeners preferring the maroon variety. It brings a beautiful look to the space, and can be mixed with the brighter varieties to make the garden very striking.

If you’re a little more adventurous (and have a bigger garden)

The Katsura

The Katsura tree is one of the most beautiful Autumn trees you’ll find on the planet. Once it is in full Autumn finery it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s dramatic yellows and reds are truly breathtaking. But there’s added value here too.

In spring the Katsura shows as soft pink, and it’s a delightful look at what is to come. In summer the tree is green, before autumn arrives with its fiery, dramatic leaves.

The Katsura has been known to grow to a gigantic 45m tall. Before you start worrying about the neighbours, bear in mind that UK conditions don’t allow this to happen. Instead, you can expect a maximum of around 15m. If your garden can take it, you’re in for a treat. It’s a truly majestic tree.

Sweet Gum

Autumn Leaves
Sweet Gum Tree

This is a beautiful tree, with colours similar to the Acer. But the key attraction here is the leaf. The foliage on the tree is shaped like a star, and it’s an enchanting addition to any garden landscape.

It can spread wider than 8m, so be ready for that. Very hardy, it can stand up to the worst of British weather, and in the autumn can surprise you with oranges, purples and reds. And that star-like look is captivating.


The Rowan tree has plenty of varieties, but pick the right one and you have a perfect autumn attraction. It has lovely, feather-like leaves that can bring you gorgeous purples and reds in autumn. The reds come through beautiful berries that have a remarkably interesting story behind them.

Rowans used to be planted near houses to guard people against witches and other nasty things. Red was the colour that was believed to protect against evil, and the red berries were rich enough to convince people that the tree was a protector.

The berries the tree brings come in different colours with the varieties. When planning for a Rowan, search around for those that provide bright red berries. It may not keep witches at bay, but it will give you a beautifully rich garden.

Autumn Leaves

Maidenhair Tree

The Maidenhair tree is one of the most beautiful trees in any autumn garden. It grows tall though, to over 12m high. Grab one of these and you’ll have the perfect counterpart to any reds and purples you already have.

The only word to describe this tree is ‘golden’. When it’s thriving in the autumn, it is literally that, with a striking rich gold that will captivate. It’s hard to imagine any other tree that offers the same level of intensity and drama towards the end of the year.

Next steps

Take your time when choosing a tree. You may have a large garden, but trees still need to fit the mood and the texture of your space. It’s worth planning out the look you want first, and this is best done by talking to an established seller.

Bio: Julien de Bosdari is the owner of Ashridge Trees,  a mail order plant nursery specialising in hedging, trees, fruit roses and shrubs. They deliver across mainland UK.







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